Il Mercado (The Market)

We have had a couple of weeks of cool, rainy weather and I am sympathetic towards all the tourists who are in town to enjoy the sun and sand.  I was glad that I had brought an umbrella with me, but wished I had also brought a sweater or fleece.  It was chilly on the way to and from the bus stop.  All the clothing boutiques in Positano sold sundresses, summer skirts and beautifully detailed blouses.  I saw a sign in a shop window that read “Sconto di sui vestitit di inverno” (50% discount on winter clothing) and decided to see if they had any sweaters.

Buona sera,” greeted the shopkeeper whose nametag read “Gabrielle.” She spoke English fluently so she could converse with all the foreign tourists who came into her shop.

Buona sera,” I replied.  “Do you have any sweaters?  I am so cold when the weather is rainy.”

Gabrielle rummaged through a pile of sweaters on one shelf, but all of them were either too large or too small for me.

“Are there any outdoor markets here?” I asked.  “Where I can buy a sweater for less money than the shops charge in Positano?”

“I really shouldn’t be telling you,” said Gabrielle.  “But there is an outdoor market at Piano di Sorrento.  It is the town that you come to right before you get toSorrento.  You can take the bus and ask anyone when you get off.  Everyone knows where the market is.  But it is only open on Mondays.”

“Oh, Monday is my day off!” I beamed.  I introduced myself to Gabrielle and told her why I was in Positano for the summer.  From then on, I never failed to stop in and see her on my way down the hill to the piazza in the center of the village.

The next Monday we were off work, Brandi and I took the 7:00 AM bus to Piano di Sorrento. She needed to find a few basic items and I was going in search of that sweater.  When we got off the bus, we went into a bar for coffee and a croissant. Brandi is a pastry chef and was always interested in seeing what type of pastries and desserts were on display.  I’m surprised that the Italians as a whole are not heavier than they are considering the pastries and pasta they consume, but I think it’s all the walking they do that offsets it.  We finished our cappuccino and left the bar to look for signs of the market.

Dove é il mercado?” we asked people on the street.

They would wave their hands around as they directed us to the local open-air market. We walked two or three blocks and then rounded a corner to see stalls set up along the sidewalk.

Brandi at the market in Sorrento

Most of the tables were littered with clothing—underwear, t-shirts, and children’s clothes. One booth was filled with shoes. Brandi bought sandals for €5 a pair that would have been €72 in Positano!  I purchased a cream colored cotton sweater that would be perfect for the cool evenings for only €1 (about $1.35). The last booth we came to offered olive oil, local cheeses and sausages.  I like the way the vendors will offer samples of anything that you might be interested in purchasing. We picked out some smoked provolone and fresh mozzarella to take back to the apartment. It was really enjoyable to spend a day with the locals and to use our limited Italian language skills.

Afterwards, we returned to Positano and had lunch at Tre Sorrelle (Three Sisters) Café by the beach.  We shared the fried zucchini blossoms and a green bean salad with mozzarella and grape tomatoes.

The zucchini squash have male and female flowers, and you are supposed to use the long male ones for this dish.  They should be fresh and firm.  The zucchini blossoms are fried in a light, thin batter much like the Japanese tempura batter.  You can also fry large fleshy sage leaves and serve them as an appetizer as well. They were delicious!


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